A 24-year-old U.K. man faces extradition to the U.S. following a sim-swap scam that occurred in mid-2021 which targeted a Boston cryptocurrency broker.
Robert Barr, 24, is facing extradition to the U.S. following a crypto fraud that took place in May and July 2017. U.S. prosecutors say that Barr and Londoner Corey De Rose robbed Reggie Middleton, a Boston broker, before transferring the money to another crypto wallet.
What is a “sim swap” scam?
A “sim-swap” scam is when a scammer transfers an individual’s phone number to another device without their authorization. This allows the scammer to begin receiving communications associated with that phone number, including access to email addresses, passwords, and of course, crypto wallets.
In May 2017, Barr and American Anthony Frances Faulks hacked a female’s phone, allowing them to make off with just under half a million pounds, redirecting the funds to different crypto wallets. According to U.S. prosecutors, Barr faces eight charges in the state of Georgia, including wire fraud and identity theft, following investigations by a grand jury in 2020.
Barr’s case so far
Barr was arrested by Scottish police in February 2021, after the FBI tipped them off to Barr’s conduct. After appearing in court, Barr was remanded in custody prior to extradition proceedings which formally began last April.
He was eventually released on bail to his mother in Kilbirnie in October 2021.
However, last week, Barr’s request to dismiss the ongoing case and arrest warrant was denied. He is expected to face an extradition hearing later this year.
De Rose, 22, who also has Asperger’s, won his extradition case back in January of this year. He was also alleged to have hacked into a crypto account in 2017.
Barr went “too far,” says former hacker
Once part of a group of teenage hackers, including Barr, a former friend said that Barr would sometimes go too far.
“We were young, around 15-16ish, and, for me, it was fun…You could take the accounts, often inactive and unused, so no loss to anyone, and sell them to other people who wanted that username. I don’t think Robert fully understood the severity of his actions and saw it as just stuff happening on his computer.”
Barr’s mom and stepdad claimed ignorance, declining to talk to the press.
Last year, telecom giant AT&T was sued following a customer’s loss of $560,000 worth of crypto due to sim-swap fraud, while another man lost $7,300 from his Coinbase account after a sim-swap attack on his T-Mobile account.
Cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase do not reimburse funds lost through SIM-swap fraud, since funds do not get stolen due to a security breach on their side, but rather through a stolen identity.
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